Thank God It's Monday®! Blog

A Simple Question That Improves Even Good Communication


Communication is one of the hardest things to get right.

Between what the sender is saying and what the person who’s listening hears, there is almost always a breakdown. The thing said is not usually what the person heard.

Yet most people go on with what they’ve heard, try to create the change in the work to make something happen, mess up, and say, “But you said…” Well, that’s not what they said, it’s what was heard.

It’s important that both people involved in communication understand the thought of closing the communication cycle. So, what’s the communication cycle?

It basically means this: there’s a sender who sends out the communication, and there’s a receiver who hears the communication.

It goes like this: “Tommy, I need the XYZ report completed to the specifications I laid out in the bullets that are laid out in the form that I gave you and I need it by seven o’clock on Thursday.”

The person who receives that message says: “Okay, what I think I heard is that you need it by seven o’clock, I do have that form. I understand the specifications, I will complete it to those specifications, and I believe you need it by seven o’clock on Thursday. Do I have everything correct?”

You would think that this is the end of a communication cycle because this is already far better than what usually happens? But oh no! There’s more.

What needs to happen next? Now, the person who received the request needs to come back to the person and say: “Hey, you asked me to put together this project by seven o’clock on Thursday meeting these specifications. Here are the specifications. Here’s the project. Did this meet your conditions of satisfaction?” Not until the person says, “yes” is it a finalized product.

Think about the number of times when people say: “ Yes. I did that. It’s sitting in a folder on my desk… Yes, I did it. It’s saved on our intranet…” Who would know if it was done correctly?

Think about the amount of rework that gets done in companies because somebody doesn’t check to make sure it hits the conditions of satisfaction before they check the little piece on their to-do list.

If they instead would just say: “Did this meet the conditions of satisfaction?\” and get that “Yes.” Now, they know it is completed correctly, and the rework goes away.

That’s the way to close the communication cycle. And guess what? That is your job.

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The One Question to Ask to Get You Unstuck and Moving Toward Your Outcome


Ten birds are perched on a wire. Three decide to fly away. How many birds are left? Ten. Because the three didn’t fly away, they just decided to fly away.

Yes, thinking about doing something is very different than getting into action.

Many people in this world are suffering from this word called overwhelm. Overwhelm is something we do to ourselves when we don’t take action.

The cure to overwhelm? Take action. Take some small action.

Ask yourself this question: “What is the smallest thing I can do right now that I couldn’t fail that would move me toward my outcome?” And then get into action.

It’s easy to sit and stew and think about what isn’t being done in the big list of to-do’s that becomes more overwhelming by the moment.

Here’s the thing, many people think: “Oh, I’ll just have to switch jobs because this job is just too much. And so I’ll have to find an easier job.” Then, they go out of the frying pan and into the fire. Into a different job only to discover now they have less experience how to do that job and less team-building with the people they’re working with… and their job just got harder again.

If you look at the statistics, the same people who are leaving jobs are leaving them again. Out of the frying pan and into the fire!

Instead, take action on the things you can take action on because wherever you go, there’s going to be too much to do. But, you can always take action on the most important things.

So, set your priorities and constantly look at those priorities. Take one at a time. Don’t look ahead to the next one. And take the first one to completion every single time before you move on to the next.

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Excuses Disguised as Explanations…


Explanations come across as excuses.

So when something falls apart and doesn’t work out the way that you had hoped, or you miss a deadline,  or some outcome doesn’t happen, telling them the sad story about why it is that way only serves to put you in the place of victimhood.

Everybody sees it… And it’s not attractive as adults.

Next time you blow it—and you will because you’re breathing—instead of giving a sad story and explaining to everybody why it’s such a relevant reason why you didn’t get things done, offer up an apology that is sincere along with a: “Listen, guys, This shouldn’t have happened. It won’t happen again. This is what I’m doing to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

That is authentic.

I have a friend who wrote a book on trust, and he had someone from another country say to him: “You Americans, you are just serial liars. You keep saying that you’re sorry, but you keep doing the same thing over and over again.”

Saying the words “I’m sorry” is not the same as saying: “I blew it. It’ll never happen again. And I’m putting systems in place so that it won’t happen again.”

We don’t want to be apologetic liars. We want to be truth-tellers that are authentic when we blow it. Leave the excuses at home.

Just say: “I blew it. Here’s my massive corrective action plan. This shouldn’t have happened. I let you down. It won’t happen again.”

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The #1 Way to Show You Care…


The great philosopher Homer Simpson says: “Just because I don’t care, doesn’t mean I’m not listening.”

Okay, there you have it. You can always quote some good stuff from Homer.  He’s pretty brilliant.

But are you showing that you’re listening to show that you care?

Look, listening is a hard thing to do.

Most of us are waiting our turn to talk instead of actually listening to hear what is being said.

Listening is not just with our ears, but with our hearts because we need to understand why are they saying that? What are their motivations? Gosh, it seems like this person is hurting. What is the concern here? How do we move through this particular piece?

As we’re thinking about listening, think about how you’re being a listener in your life.

How are you listening to your supervisor? Your spouse? Your children? Your colleagues? Your clientele? How are you hearing what’s really underneath the words?

Listening is hard. And listen, nobody’s perfect. I’m sure not. It is something that when we choose to get better at it, we do get better at it.

So don’t take advice from Homer Simpson. Instead, decide to make sure that you are listening and that you care.

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The Key to Conflict Re-SOLUTION…


Anyone who thinks there aren’t two sides to a conflict probably isn’t in one. Can you relate?

The time that something is going wrong is also about the time that most people dig those heels right in to make the case that they aren’t wrong.

What is it with whoever said there was something wrong with being wrong? We’re wrong all the time.

Being wrong is what we do. We’re humans. We can’t possibly be right all the time.

Instead, why don’t we just say, “Oh, that’s interesting. Tell me more about that. I want to understand. How can we work this out together? Sounds like we disagree on this? I wonder what the common ground is? Tell me what do you think we could do to find a common ground to move ahead on this?”

The fine art of the dialogue to work through a complex situation is a skill that we need to figure out as we put our big boy and big girl pants on in life.

We learned our conflict resolution skills, sadly, in about the fourth grade… and most of us have really never gotten more development since that time.

It’s not our fault. But, now it’s time to figure this out. Because we live in a conflict-ridden world.

Work is filled with conflict. Life is filled with conflict.

Learning the skills of conflict, of staying calm, of asking questions.

Don’t assume that you’re right. Be curious about the other side. And bring your best, most respectful self forth.

That takes you through the complexity of conflict so that you always understand the relationship is always more important than being right.

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